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There is no denying that there are more positive news stories regarding cannabis. The awareness around cannabis is only growing. Consumers are becoming better versed in the therapeutic potential of cannabis and also in regards to the treatment of specific autoimmune diseases, inflammation, and gastrointestinal disorders. 

However, there is one question that many people want to know a little more about. Which is, how does cannabis affect the immune system as a whole? You may have thought about this for some time, or realized that as a regular consumer, you want to understand a little more about whether or not there are any other benefits, aside from your reason to use cannabis. Does it weaken or boost your immune system? Can frequent cannabis use render you more prone to infections or contagious diseases or does it help you manage to avoid them altogether? We hope to answer that question a little more clearly. 

What research suggests

As it turns out, the research into cannabis and the immune system hasn’t historically had many chances to be the focus of scientific studies. There isn’t a mass of information or evidence that will support either case. However, as researchers understanding of the effects of cannabis on the body becomes more sophisticated and understood, we need to also broaden our knowledge of how cannabis influences the immune system and be more aware of it moving forward. 

Present evidence suggests that cannabis can suppress immune system function. While this can be helpful for individuals with autoimmune illnesses, it may not be so beneficial for those with functional immune systems.

What is the immune system and how does it function?

It is a good idea to first understand the functionality of the immune system. The overall function of the immune system is to prevent or limit infection. An example of this principle is found in immunocompromised people, including those with genetic immune disorders, debilitating infections like HIV that affect the immune system, and even pregnant women – who are susceptible to a range of microbes that typically do not cause infection in healthy individuals.

However, if your body is threatened by an illness or disease, your immune system will fight off the infection or the disease as best it can. If your body has built up antibodies, then this will be resolved, if your body has not built up antibodies it will fight off the infection and create them  in order to survive in the future. The level of function of your immune system will vary from person to person, depending on genetics and individual factors. 

How does cannabis affect the immune system?

While there isn’t extensive research, scientists have looked into the characteristics and connections between cannabis use and the immune system. They often discuss its effects as immunomodulatory or immunosuppressive. Immunomodulation refers to any therapy that modifies the immune system response. When cannabis suppresses the expression of aspects of the immune system, this form of modulation is known as immunosuppression. 

It’s vital to point out here that the ability cannabis has to subdue or suppress immune system cells can be useful if the immune system is dysregulated and in need of suppression. If not, suppressing the immune system is not helpful at all. The truth, in terms of whether cannabis can boost your immune system, would depend entirely on the level of performance of your immune system beforehand. 

Research published in 2017 indicated that cannabis has an immunomodulatory effect on the human intestinal lymphatic system, the major host of immune cells. The lymphatic system also contains more than half the body’s lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are blood cells that play a critical role in finding and destroying foreign cells or substances that have infiltrated the body.

The study’s authors found that oral administration of CBD and THC with fats resulted in extremely high cannabinoid levels in the intestinal lymphatic system: CBD concentrations in lymph cells were 250 times higher than in plasma, while THC concentrations in lymph cells were 100 times higher than in plasma. 

So, what is the significance of this? For individuals with autoimmune diseases, cannabis can achieve higher concentrations in the lymphatic system and suppress unhealthy inflammatory immune responses more successfully.

Can there be a positive effect on my immune system when using cannabis?

There are studies that have reviewed the effects of cannabis use on the immune system. They have been assessed by looking at the direct measurement of specific immune functions in healthy individuals. The primary advantage of evaluating the specific immune response is that the immune system is composed of different cell types, each with different functionality. Assessing the immune responses provides much more in-depth information on whether, how, and even to what extent that cannabis can affect specific cell types within the immune system. 

The challenge with this type of information is that it is difficult to ascertain whether a deficit in a specific immune function, unless extreme, necessarily results in greater susceptibility to infection by a pathogen. Conversely, it is difficult to expand on results showing enhanced immune responsiveness due to exposure to an agent and to determine whether that exposure may lead to an increased incidence of hypersensitivity or autoimmune disease. Therefore, the evaluation of immune competence requires a comprehensive assessment of a broad range of different cell types and their functions, which to date has not been conducted in cannabis users.

So what is the verdict?

While there is information to support that cannabis can boost your immune system there is no solidified evidence to this, and there is still the question of whether it just helps individuals that happen to have a low immunity level in the first place. 

Get in touch for more information 
If you would like more information about purchasing cannabis consider Planet 13, the world’s largest cannabis dispensary. Planet 13 Las Vegas is located on West Desert Inn Rd. Las Vegas. We are open 24/7 for your convenience. For additional questions, you can call us at (702) 815-1313 for more information on deals and how we can help.